La Concha Bay, San Sebastian

Spain is home to more than 5000 miles of coastline, so there really is no lack of choice on where to catch some beach time. Often, we associate beaches with sun, sand, and… shells, but it really depends what your flavour is. Whatever it is, Spain can provide.

Playa de las Cathederals- Ribadeo

Spain is blessed with both the white sands of the Mediterranean, and the rugged coastline of the atlantic. Some of the countries’ most impressive coastal spectacles, are on the less renowned, choppy coasts of the north. It is the rough temperament of the ocean which puts some holidaymakers off, but the relentless battering of the ocean on the side of cliffs are a pull-factor for those that can bear the winds.

The Playa de las Cathedrals is a stunning example of atlantic coastline, and an awe-striking reminder of the power of nature. Here, the white horses of Pegasus charge forwards to batter against the cliffs, leaving a row of majestic cliff carvings, unlike any others.

It is an absolute must to arrive here at low tide, and is worth planning ahead. At low tide, it is possible to walk under a series of arches in the cliffs, and explore caves, making for a unique beach side stroll. At high tide it is still possible to admire the formations from above, but there will only be a tiny amount of beach available.

La Concha- San Sebastian

Not all beautiful beaches are nestled away in the middle of nowhere, and there is the odd city beach which manages to be just as stunning. Situated near the French border on the Northern Atlantic coast San Sebastian is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. It boasts two very clean, and appealing beaches, both of which are worth a visit. Forget the beaches of Barcelona, and check out La Concha!

A far cry from the usual below-average-but-I-guess-it-will-do beaches, La Concha is set against a backdrop of hills and island. The atlantic waters lap the shore of the golden sand, adding atmosphere to an already buzzing city. The beach and surrounding promenade are thriving with tourists, but the atmosphere is rousing, and the beach can turn it’s sands to partying when the sun goes down!

San Sebastian is set to be European Cultural Capital in 2016, and is thriving with budding artists and musicians. A stroll along the sea-front at sunset will tickle the senses, and delight the soul, as the lapping of the sea merges with the sounds of the buskers, and the chatting of tourists and locals alike.

Playa de les Illets- Formentera

So let’s get to the nitty-gritty. Sometimes, you just want a straight up vacation, with a hard weeks relaxation, lapping up the sun-rays, and only moving from the sun-lounger to cool down with a dip in some crystal clear Mediterranean water. Sound familiar?

Formentera is one of the Balearic Islands, and lies to the south of it’s party-hard cousin, Ibiza. It is part of the Ses Salines nature reserve, and the beaches are both spectacular, and reasonably quiet. Where Ibiza screams out for dance, drugs, and sex on the beach, Formentera whispers white sand, water-sports, and fine-dining on seafood.

One of the finest beaches the island has to offer is Illets, which offers several kilometres of perfect white sand, close to the amenities of the adorable port town. The mild sea is family-friendly fun for swimming, snorkelling, and kicking back in the sun. For a relaxing beach, with a tropical island vibe, Playa de les Illets really hits the spot.

Mundaka- Basque

Somewhere hot and comfy to lie in the sun is high up on most people’s beach priorities. But not everybody’s. Some people want to hit the waves! Spain has many beaches that suit all levels of surfer dude, but Mundaka is not for the faint hearted. Mundaka lies deep in the heart of Basque country; a northern region with it’s own identity, and a rich history waiting to be explored.

It is perhaps the most famed surf beach in Spain, and is internationally acclaimed in the surfer community. Intermediate and expert surfers come here to ride the beast left-hand wave, which reaches heights of 12ft! Needless to say, Mundaka is not the best place to learn, so newbies should try out their skills elsewhere first.

Beginners, or interested bystanders can marvel at the wild velocity of the waves, and at the courage of the keen surfers who take on the ocean. Mundaka is not however the first pick of beach for those who are not interested in surfing. There are much sandier, and more relaxing beaches available. It is a beach that is all about the beauty of the wave!

Playa de Rodas- Islas Cies

The Islas Cies are a beautiful set of islands off the coast of the Galician region of Spain. This is a little taste of the Caribbean in Spain, and you will be pleased to know the stunning island is completely uninhabited. It instead forms part of a national park, which is open to the public in the summer months, and accessible via a short boat ride from the pretty town of Baiona.

Here a perfect crescent of soft white sand, couples with the lapping of the atlantic ocean. The experience is a tranquil one, that would perhaps not be available on the equally beautiful, but often hideously overcrowded beaches of the Med.

You may notice an under-representation of south coast Mediterranean beaches. There is no doubt that the well-known areas up and down the coast, such as Malaga and Alicante, contain their share of stunning sand, and omni-present sun. Sometimes the ease and luxury of these beaches can be their downfall, and the resorts that amass around them can take away from the charm.

It all depends what you are looking for really, but the real untouched beauty, may be found on the more rugged atlantic coast, where sun might have to be sacrificed for superb scenery, and secluded gems. Whatever it is you are looking for, Spain has a beach to satisfy.

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